An enjoyable, straightforward thriller, "Red Eye" is the latest from director Wes Craven, and it's a fine, enjoyably brisk (85 minutes) affair. The film stars Rachel McAdams ("Wedding Crashers") as Lisa, a hotel manager who, as we see in an early scene, has everything together, easily fielding calls from work when trying to get to the airport.
However, she'll wish she'd taken Amtrak. While waiting in the airport for the flight to take off, she meets Jackson Rippner (Cilian Murphy), a guy with an eerily calm manner about him. The small talk continues when the two find their way onto the plane, and - oddly enough - happen to be sitting next to each other.
While Jackson talks the nervous Lisa through takeoff, the topic changes moments later, as he reveals to her that her father is being held hostage, and that he needs her help in order to murder an official that's going to be staying at the hotel she works at. Thus begins a battle of wits between Lisa and her kidnapper that extends throughout the plane ride and after arrival. I wn't spoil any more of the movie than that.
McAdams may have come this far in comedies (excellent in "Mean Girls", wasted in "Wedding Crashers" and in the moderately enjoyable romantic drama "Notebook", but she's marvelous in this feature, and portrays the emotions of the character in a rich and compelling way - instead of being a damsel in distress, we always see her wheels spinning, trying to stay one step ahead of Murphy's character. Murphy, on the other hand, turns in a quietly stellar effort, making the character menacing without turning up the volume.
"Red Eye" does have its share of logic issues and the occasional plot hole, but I didn't think that it was a major concern, and the film's rapid-fire pacing (amped up even further in the last half hour) keeps one from pondering any story issues for too long. It may not be a hugely memorable film or one of the year's best, but it does function as a solid, suspenseful thriller.
VIDEO: "Red Eye" is presented by Dreamworks in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation is generally quite good, as sharpness and detail are mostly first-rate, aside from a few minor moments of slight softness. The presentation does show a couple of slight traces of artifacts, but no edge enhancement or print flaws were spotted. Colors apeared subdued, but accurate, with no smearing or other concerns. While falling somewhat short of excellence, this is still a very nice effort.
SOUND: "Red Eye" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's audio isn't terribly aggressive, but that's understandable, given the picture's generally dialogue-driven nature. Surrounds do come in for occasional sound effects, ambience and reinforcement of the score, but the majority of the audio is rooted in the front speakers. Audio quality remains marvelous, as the score sounded powerful and dynamic, and dialogue and effects sounded crisp and well-recorded.
EXTRAS: Director Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena and Editor Patrick Lussier offer an audio commentary for the feature. The track is very enjoyable, as we hear details about issues like shooting on the plane for weeks, script changes, casting, working with the actors, story issues, production problems and stories from the set. It's a pretty engaging, enthusiastic commentary that offers a lot of insights and keeps the conversation going well throughout most of the track.
A rather lengthy gag reel results in some giggles, but it's not as amusing as most. There's also a pair of fairly brief, pretty promotional featurettes: a "making of" and "Wes Craven: A New Kind of Thriller". Finally, there are promos for other titles.
Final Thoughts: "Red Eye" isn't without its faults, but it's a sleek, entertaining thriller that, at only 85 minutes, moves along quite swiftly. The DVD edition offers very fine audio/video quality, along with a solid commentary and a few other, not as noteworthy supplements. A highly recommended rental.